I clearly have the best job in the world, because I regularly get to go to a book group that does nothing but talk about good books — and lots of them. This isn’t your typical “let’s all read the same book and talk about it” book group. Instead, this is an informal group where we go around the room and each reader takes about two to three minutes to talk about a book he or she’s enjoyed. It’s an incredible place to get ideas for what to read next. And although the name — Let’s Talk About Books — is sort of boring and a teensy bit dopey, it really does say it all.
This summer several branches around Seattle are offering similar low-pressure drop-in book sessions called Read a Book, Share a Book. Again, the idea is just to encourage people to talk about what they’ve enjoyed reading, give other people suggestions and walk away with ideas of what you might want to add to your reading list. (Look for Read a Book, Share a Book this Saturday, July 11, at 2:30 at the Douglass-Truth branch for ages 11 through adult; August 1 again at Douglass-Truth, August 8 at the International District/Chinatown Branch, August 9 and the Rainier Beach Branch and August 15 at the South Park Branch.)
One of my many favorite things about this group is how readers talk about what they enjoy. I had read several reviews of The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett and had certainly seen it on the library shelves. But when I heard Andrea talking about a specific scene from the book, I was convinced that I needed to start reading it that same day on the bus ride home. I knew that Jane Hamilton had a new book out, called Laura Rider’s Masterpiece, but it wasn’t until Lillian talked about how surprisingly funny it was that I: 1.) realized Hamilton could write funny; 2.) decided to place a hold on it. And just yesterday Della’s recommendation of a nonfiction book about the Mustang Ranch (Brothel: The Mustang Ranch and Its Women by Alexa Albert) and Joan’s recommendation of Linda Fairstein’s newest (Lethal Legacy, set in a library in NYC) meant two more books for my reading pile, and Susan’s recommendation of The Water’s Lovely by Ruth Rendell on audio means a new book will soon be downloaded to my iPod. Ali, Erika and Randy all chimed in with recommendations and we all left with personal insight into more than a dozen books and authors.
“This is the best model for a book group ever,” my friend and fellow librarian Abby said the last time she attended Let’s Talk About Books. I couldn’t agree more.